Three Days in Northern Vermont

Northern Vermont Itinerary

Adventure Awaits Up North

Northern Vermont is celebrated for its rural beauty, its unique culture and heritage and its tight-knit, welcoming communities set in beautiful historic downtowns. This region is a destination for those looking to recharge by unplugging and taking in some of Vermont’s natural splendor.

Vermont’s uppermost region is geographically diverse, including Lake Willoughby, the deepest in the state, Mount Mansfield, the Green Mountains’ highest peak, and the beauty of the Champlain Islands with their colorful seasonal communities. Find the state’s only public planetarium in historic downtown St. Johnsbury, or lose yourself in the wilderness on a mountain bike. Where you head first is up to you; here’s our itinerary for a long weekend in northern Vermont.

Day 1: Lake Champlain

Those looking for a taste of #lakelife will find it up here. Kill Kare State Park makes for a beautiful way to recharge and spend the day hiking, exploring or just listening to the sound of waves on the parks’ beach. Take the ferry to Burton Island State Park and tuck into some delicious locally grown food at the Burton Island BistroIsle La Motte is another hidden gem tucked away lakeside.

Looking to get even further north? Alburgh Dunes State Park is home to one of the longest beaches in Vermont, with plenty of warm, shallow water to go around. From there, explore Chazy Reef, the world’s oldest communal reef, and look out for real live fossils (yes, really.) Grab something to eat at renowned local stop Hero’s Welcome. Lovers, families and nature lovers will find unforgettable adventure in the Champlain Islands.

Those looking for an urban vibe will find it in Burlington, Vermont’s biggest city, nestled right up against Lake Champlain. Families will enjoy shopping downtown, spending time at Shelburne Museum or getting to know the lake’s ecosystems and natural life at Echo Leahy Center for Lake Champlain.

From Burlington, head east toward Cambridge, where you can squeeze in a jaw-dropping drive through Smugglers Notch before reaching Stowe.

Day 2: Stowe and Waterbury

This historic downtown, along with its bustling neighbor, Waterbury, promises world-class dining and no shortage of attractions sure to please. Grab or rent a mountain bike and explore Waterbury Area Trails Alliance’s trails, or head to Stowe to shred Cady Hill and find a feast afterward at Ranch Camp, a new kind of bicycle bar and restaurant.

Outdoor recreation abounds here. Hike the Stowe Pinnacle trail for breathtaking views of the Greens or enjoy sections of Vermont’s Long Trail, an over 200-mile through-hiking trail maintained by the Green Mountain Club. Experience Vermont’s beauty and majesty as the seasons change on a zipline through Smugglers Notch, racing through the treetops. Take a walk on the Lamoille County Rail Trail and immerse yourself in natural beauty.

If hiking’s not your thing, take in the splendor of the area on the Stowe Mountain Resort Auto Toll Road to see it from your car.

Waterbury Reservoir State Park is one of Vermont’s most popular state parks and it’s easy to see why. Its open beaches, shallow water and opportunities to stretch out make it a relaxing spot for all ages. Head there and find dinner in Waterbury afterward, with options available for the whole family, or go to historic Stowe for dining. Bed down anywhere from a remote campground at the state park to a cozy, quaint B&B or a high-end lodge with modern accommodations. Traveling with family? Don’t miss the Ben & Jerry’s factory experience, complete with a scoop shop.

Day 3: The Northeast Kingdom

Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom has accumulated something of a cult following for its remote setting, one-of-a-kind finds and unique feel. From Stowe, head to historic downtown St. Johnsbury on Route 15 and pass through up-and-coming foodie town Hardwick before reaching St. Johnsbury by way of bucolic Danville. In St. Johnsbury, explore arts and culture at the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, home to a stunning art gallery with a wide collection, and then the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, set in a Victorian brick building with a collection of curiosities to pique any interest. For one-of-a-kind arts and culture, check out the Museum of Everyday Life in Glover, exhibiting such everyday items as scissors, clothing and even dust.

Wanting to explore the rugged outdoors of the Kingdom? Head to East Burke, where Kingdom Trails beckons. On foot or mountain bike, get up close and personal with NEK terrain. Stay in grand and historic splendor at the recently restored Inn at Burklyn and take in the beauty of the landscapes from above with a chairlift ride at Burke Mountain Resort, no matter the season.